Thomas de Vio Cajetan


Biographical Sketch

by Lidia Rivas, Biola University


Summary of his life

1468/69- Cajetan was born Feb. 20 in Italy

1483– entered the Dominican order but he decided to do that on his own and against his parents will.

1492– March 19 he received his bachelors of theology and received his masters from the university of Padua.

1494-became the professor of metaphysics. He also conducted a dispute against Pico della Mirandola.

1501-1508– he taught theology at Rome. He wrote his commentary called Summa theologiae. This was regarding St. Thomas Aquinas.

1507- Master General, John Clérée died and he became the vicar-general

1508- named Master-general of the Dominican order.

1511– defended papal authority against the schismatic Council of Pisa

1512-1517– advised the church to reformat the fifth council of the Lateran

1517– He became a Cardinal presbyter of Saint Sisto in Rome by Pope Leo X. He also wrote his treatises.

1518– started look into Marin Luther

1519- made a bill that excommunicated Luther.

He also represented the pope at the Diet of Frankfort

1522- he dedicated the third part of Summa to pope Adrian VI.

1527- he was imprisoned and had to pay 5,000 Roman crowns of gold. He also retired. He also wrote a commentary on Psalms.

1534– he was a cardinal and he rejected Henry VIII

He passed away on August 9th.


  • Thomas Aquinas- he for the most part believed the things that Thomas Aquinas believed in. He wrote a commentary about him which was called Summa Theologiae.
  • Aristotle- he wrote commentaries about him.
  • Saint Augustine- he also believed in the Augustinian doctrine of justification.
  • Martin Luther- He studied his work really closely and thought that Martin Luther and his followers were going against the authority of the church and their customs.
  • Erasmus- He studied Erasmus’ notes regarding the New Testament.


  • 1492- after his bachelors in theology and his success against Pico della Mirandola, many students became attracted to his writings and lectures; thus assigning him master general.
  • Cajetan’s positive teaching, integrity, and honesty served as guidance for many individuals including his enemies. He also got along with him.
  • He was seen as the “lamp of the Church” by Pope Clement VII
  • Within the nobility, universities, and cardinals he was considered the “theological light of Italy”

Cajetan’s Theology

  • He believed that the Pope was someone that represented God and did all the things that he commanded.
  • He also played a role in reviving scholasticism and also wanted to keep some of the elements of the humanist revival that was in sync with the Catholic church.
  • “Cajetan did not believe that there existed philosophically demonstrable argument for the immortality of the soul, and that it was instead something to be believed by faith alone.”. (newworldencyclopedia)
  • He wanted the church to come together and they would be able to do it by communion.
  • All his theological beliefs go against Martin Luther; Cajetan strongly believed Luther had to retract from his mistakes and give full submission to the Pope. It was also the whole protestant reformation.
  • His theology for the most part reflected Aquinas’s views.
  • He was also known for prioritizing and providing for what the church needed.
  • He also strongly believed in the monopsychism (one immortal soul).
  • He tried to stay true to the bible and make the proper interpretations. He also did not want to cause any conflict with the church so he made sure that there was no problem with what the church believed in.
  • He was also a strong believer that the indulgences were wrong and that whoever wanted to participate in the sacraments needed to have faith if not they wouldn’t be able to partake in it.

Cajetan’s Writings


  • For the most part, he wrote a lot of commentaries of different parts of the bible such as the Old and New Testament. In addition to writing commentaries about the bible, he also wrote commentaries about some of the Theologians that were well known during the medieval period.
  • He is more known for the commentary about Thomas Aquinas.


Major Works

  • Opera omnia (5 vol. 1639).
  • Opuscula omnia (1530)
  • Commentary of Saint Thomas’ Summa theologiae (1540)***
  • De dvina institutione Pontificatus Romani Pontificis (1521)
  • In Porphyrii Isagogen (1934)
  • De comparatione auctoritatis papae u. Apologia (1936)
  • De Anima (1938)
  • Scripta philosophica


Original Publications

  • “Opuscula omnia tribus tomis distincta” (fol., Lyons, 1558; Venice, 1558; Antwerp, 1612), a collection of fifty nine treatises;
  • “Commentaria super tractatum de ente et essentiâ Thomae de Aquino; super libros posteriorum Aristotelis et praedicamenta”, etc. (fol., Venice, 1506);
  • “In praedicabilia Porphyrii praedicamenta et libros posteriorum analyticorum Aristotelis castigatissima commentaria” (8vo, Venice, 1587, 1599);
  • “Super libros Aristotelis de Animâ”, etc. (Rome, 1512; Venice, 1514; Paris, 1539);
  • “Summula de peccatis” (Rome, 1525, and in many other corrected and augmented editions);
  • “Jentacula N.T., expositio literalis sexaginta quatuor notabilium sententiarum Novi Test.”, etc. (Rome, 1525);
  • “In quinque libros Mosis juxta sensum lit. commentarii” (Rome, 1531, fol.; Paris, 1539);
  • “In libros Jehosuae, Judicum, Ruth, Regum, Paralipomenon, Hezrae, Nechemiae et Esther” (Rome, 1533; Paris, 1546);
  • “In librum Job” (Rome, 1535);
  • “In psalmos” (Venice, 1530; Paris, 1532);
  • “In parabolas Salomonis, in Ecclesiasten, in Esaiae tria priora capita” (Rome, 1542; Lyons, 1545; Paris, 1587);
  • “In Evangelia Matt., Marci, Lucae, Joannis” (Venice, 1530);
  • “In Acta Apostolorum” [Venice, 1530; Paris (with Gospels), 1536];
  • “In Epistolas Pauli” (Paris, 1532);
  • “Opera omnia quotquot in sacrae Scripturae expositionem reperiuntur, curâ atque industriâinsignis collegii S. Thomae Complutensis, O.P.” (5 vols. fol., Lyons, 1639).
  • (All of those original works was found through my sources)

Secondary Works

*Organum Deitatis: Die Christologie des Thomas de Vio Cajetan. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought 62


“Cardinal Cajetan.” Cardinal Cajetan- New World Encyclopedia. April 8, 2013. Accessed November 21, 2016.

Haas, William P. “Hands Respectful and Clean: Cajetan and the Reformation.” Providence College. January 1, 2004. Accessed November 20, 2016.

O’Mailey, J Steven, 1999. “Organum deitatis: die Christologie des Thomas de Vio Cajetan.” Church History 68, no. 4: 1001-1004. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 22, 2016).

O’Meara, Thomas F. “Thomism Theology.” Encyclopedia Britannica. November 9, 2009. Accessed November 21, 2016.

“Tommaso De Vio Gaetani Cajetan.” Catholic Encyclopedia: Tommaso De Vio Gaetani Cajetan. Accessed November 22, 2016.


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